Last week my husband and I submitted our resignations from the Mormon church. It was the final step in a journey of several years. As soon as we clicked the final button to make it official, I felt a familiar, quiet peace in my soul; it's a feeling I was taught as a Mormon to recognise as confirmation that a decision was right and true. Like I said, there are pieces of my Mormon past that will always belong to me. But if I could go back and tell my young Mormon self one thing, it would be that her life would turn out better than she could ever imagine.
During the past week, the Bloggernacle (a loose term for the Mormon blogosphere, and by extension, the online Mormon community in general) has been all abuzz about several new articles on the Church’s official website dealing with the topic of polygamy. Most Mormons have had the unpleasant experience of hastily explaining to intrigued or confrontational outsiders that polygamy happened a long time ago, and we don’t do it anymore, possibly followed by the assurance that the purpose of polygamy back then was to care for destitute widows and orphans.
Heavenly Mother is, of course, near and dear to my heart, so I was excited to hear about a new art and poetry contest being held in Her honor. From the contest’s webpage:
This contest celebrates the wondrous doctrine of the Restoration that we have a Heavenly Mother that oversees our spiritual development, in addition to a Heavenly Father. The first Relief Society President, Eliza R. Snow, famously penned in the LDS Hymn “O, My Father” the truth that we have “a mother there.” But while in heaven, it is important to remember that our Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother are yet present to us now. They bestow upon us their love, gifts, inspiration, and grace, to help us along our earthly journey. As Sister Chieko Okazaki noted, our Father and Mother shower us with love and mercy. And as Elder Jeffrey R. Holland noted, our “heavenly parents are reaching across… streams and mountains and deserts, anxious to hold [us] close.”
About a month ago, I wore pants to church for the first time (trousers, that is, for my readers who speak British-inspired forms of English). In case you didn’t know, there’s a soft norm in the Mormon church for women to wear skirts or dresses to Sunday meetings. And in case you haven’t heard, there’s been quite a social media tempest during the past couple of weeks after a group of Mormon feminists asked LDS women to wear pants to church on Sunday, December 16 as a show of solidarity.
In a 1945 essay (“Is Theology Poetry?”), C.S. Lewis remarked, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” As one who embraced Christianity later in life, Lewis had a keen appreciation of how a new discovery of belief can throw a bright reflected glory on the world and everything in it.
The mind, which craves new connections of any kind, takes a special delight in those intellectual connections that carry an associated weight of affection. Who has not noted with pleasure the increased sweetness imparted to a beautiful place by the remembrance of a few precious moments shared there with one’s beloved? How much more, then, might we linger over a place, a picture, a happy turn of phrase that brought to mind some past or promised communion with the divine, assaulting our senses with a sudden tingle of the holy.
– Note to subscribers: I accidentally published this when I was only halfway done (yes, my worst blogging nightmare). Please ignore the first post and read this one –
Up till now, these posts have mostly concerned my own personal journey toward understanding and appreciating the female side of God (for background, see posts 1, 2 and 3). I wanted to start out that way because many of my ideas and beliefs about Heavenly Mother have come through thinking about Her and seeking personal heavenly guidance. Much of this guidance has come through prayer and inspiration from the Holy Spirit. Some of the most beautiful insights came from my Patriarchal Blessing.
My next thoughts about Heavenly Mother have a lot to do with our conception of the afterlife, and how we will live there. Mormons have been described as having “the biggest heaven and the littlest hell.” One of the things I love about my faith is that it describes a God whose boundless mercy includes many people denied salvation by the tenets of some other faiths.
The Mormon idea of heaven is expansive, nuanced, and mind-bogglingly beautiful (in my opinion. Anyway, it tops my list of ideal future destinations). Among other things, it makes provision for groups sometimes relegated to heavenly disenfranchisement, such as people who have lived and died never even having heard of the Gospel, those of other faiths (non-Christians/non-Jehovah’s Witnesses/non-Muslims/etc.), and unbaptized babies.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This delightful and informative volume is obviously a labor of love from a fellow Tintin fan. In his acknowledgments, Farr fondly remembers his mother teaching him to read at the dining room table with Tintin. Little wonder that he grew up to be a Tintinologist and produce this wonderful treatise.
The book is beautifully laid out, and spends several pages reliving and analysing each of the Tintin books, focusing on narrative development, contemporaneous history, and other pertinent influences. I especially loved the many photos reproduced from Herge’s files. He collected photos on any subject that might come in handy in future volumes, which is one of the reasons the comics are so remarkably accurate in their portrayal of everything from a certain make of rifle to a pre-Columbian wooden statue.
I hope all of you mothers had a lovely mother’s day. Before Church, my husband made me breakfast, and my kids gave me cute cards. At Church, I substitute-taught a class of a dozen rambunctious eleven-year-olds, and reflected that mothering my own two children is actually pretty easy by comparison. After Church, I had a nice videochat with my mom, and then Tony took the children to visit a lonely lady in the ward, and I laid out my blanket on the lawn and read The Secret Life of Bees. Lovely.
This is a post that has been germinating inside of me for a long, long time, and the week of Mother’s Day seemed like the perfect moment to let it flower.
As you may or may not know, the Mormon conception of God encompasses both a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother. However, for whatever reason, we almost never talk about our Heavenly Mother.
The relative absence of my Heavenly Mother didn’t really bother me much growing up. In fact, when I thought of Her at all, I thought about Her as a sort of special, beautiful secret, and something I found aesthetically pleasing about my religion. To me, She was more of an idea than a real person; certainly She didn’t seem as “real” as God the Father or Jesus Christ, whom I heard about every week at church, and with whom I was encouraged to develop a personal relationship.